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Internet Marketing Tips

Higher Click-Through-Rate Through Sitelinks?

 

With any paid search campaign, our main goal is to have maximum conversion rate with the lowest cost per click possible. There are several ways that you can go about reducing your costs within any paid search campaign.

Through higher click through rates, higher quality scores, and rotating ad copy, you can lower your cost per click by as much as 50%. However, a strategy that’s been out for more than two years now seems to have gone under the radar within the Google ad words interface. Sitelinks from Google Adwords is possibly one of the most efficient things you can do for any paid search campaign.
Sitelinks from Google Adwords are simply text links that are available underneath your main ad within your paid search campaign. if you’ve ever noticed when a brand’s homepage shows up number one in Google’s organic search results there are often between four and eight text links available for you to click that lead to automatically generated sub-pages. Sitelinks are very similar to this feature, with the exception that you have complete control over the site links Google Adwords will show when a user searches for a keyword you may be bidding on. In the case of Google Adwords, up to three site links will display if your page ranks in the second or third result of paid search ads, and up to six Sitelinks will show if your page ranks number one and is considered extremely relevant when compared to other search results. You can select up to 12 site links for each paid search campaign. Google’s paid search algorithm will then determine the most relevant site links to show when they are triggered. The most popular sitelinks that are selected to be shown in Google ad words are usually top level category pages. You may also want to add a contact us page if a your customers would generally rather speak to a customer service representative.

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So what does this mean for your paid search campaign as well as your cost per click? While your main page search ad may have a higher click through rate, Sitelinks are a more narrow funnel to get the user to exactly what they’re looking for. Even though your paid search campaign may have a click through rate as high as 5%, site links are known to have click through rates between 10 and 20% sometimes. And as any Internet marketer knows, the higher your click through rate, the lower your cost per click. Essentially Sitelinks save you money on your bottom line, as well as drive users to more relevant pages that are more likely to have them convert.

 

If you find that Sitelinks are successful for your branded terms, you may want to consider implementing them on non-branded terms as well. When you build out Sitelinks, they are built on a campaign level. You’re welcome to use the same site links on separate campaigns, however it is highly advisable that you create a new set of links for each campaign within your paid search program.

Sitelinks will not show up nearly as often for non-branded search terms. However when they do show they can also increase your click through rates as much as four times as high as your paid search text ad that is already in place, so the effort that you go through to build out Sitelinks is more than justifiable.

2,000 Step Checkout: User Experience on the way to Your Conversion Page

Have you taken a look at your checkout process lately? The world is a fast moving place, and people want that same speed on the web. While we have other articles that address actual site speed, the user experience on the way to the final payment page, plays a critical role in a users likelihood of converting. Unfortunately, this checkout process is usually built fairly clunky, and once you’ve built out security with PCI compliance, changing your secure pages is one of the most difficult tasks of web design. If you’re like several older sites, here’s a quick breakdown of your checkout process.

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Step 1) Login or Enter Your Email
Step 1b)Create your account
Step 2) Confirm your products, Remove as Necessary or do more shopping
Step 3) Choose Your Shipping Service
Step 4) Choose Your Shipping Speed
Step 5) Enter Your Shipping Address (If it’s different from your billing address)
Step 6) Leave the page.

Well that’s not the way it’s supposed to go, but usually the way it does go. Here’s a few steps for a better process that you could use.

 

Step 1) Checkout.

Cool, right? One step checkout, or one page checkout, has been around for quite some time now, and it has gained huge momentum in popularity. It’s simple to use, buyers don’t have to wait for several pages to load while they checkout, and when they hit that buy button, they’ve entered all information necessary to complete the transaction.

Most customers spend lots of time researching products and pricing before they decide to go with your business. Many times, they’ve spend a few minutes on the fence doing customer service reviews between two companies to decide who they like better. For whatever reason, they’ve made the decision to become a customer with you…DON’T ruin the opportunity. You spend so much time trying to give internet users information and product availability as quickly as possible, so why would you drag down the checkout process? Patience runs extremely thin with online shoppers, and there’s no loyalty involved. Customers wanted their product at the price they wanted it for and they’ll go right on to the next guy if they have to. The moment you give them the chance to change their minds with something as small as a tedious checkout process, is the moment your conversion rates tank.

One step checkout is just as secure as your current process, if not more secure. Contrary to popular belief, you’ll collect all of the information you need in one page, without sacrificing the loss of any customer data.

In short, One step checkout should be a no-brainer for your business and your bottom line, it’s just a matter of getting it setup. When you do get it up and running, you’ll see times to conversion cut themselves by nearly 50%, because of the time that’s spent on multi page checkout. It’s truly a win-win situation for all parties involved, most importantly, your customer.

 

Blog Management 101

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We’d like to congratulate you on the recent launch of your blog. We have no doubt that your writing is impeccable, and your content will truly be engaging. But have you really taken the time to think about blog management? Do you fully understand what it really takes to not only engage users while they’re on your site, but to get them there in the first place? Blog management is a big undertaking and you should be aware of what’s going to be required of you to have a successful blog before you get in too deep with the content you create for your website.

Blog management is so much more than just creating content. Let’s start with SEO. While several blog platforms come with the capabilities to be SEO friendly, there are several aspects that need to be improved upon. This isn’t to say that the platforms are inadequate, but they try to be as generic as possible to allow users to customize their SEO strategy to their website. You’ll need to customize titles, meta data, and keywords using plugins or extensions to your current template. Make sure to do your research on SEO and get your plugin set up for before doing ANY posts. Get your blog off on the right foot. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure you set up your permalinks properly. Make sure to use keyword friendly URLs. Do you know what that means? Ask us.

Since you most likely, already know what you’re writing about, have you taken the time to think about your site structure and sub categories? That’s right, in order to create content relevant pages within Google’s search results, you’ll most definitely need sub category pages. These are essentially aggregated posts listed under the same topic. These may not seem like much to you, but your content is all summarized over 1 page within each topic, which can prove ridiculously valuable to your organic search rankings and volume. This idea of site structure makes it much easier for search engines to crawl your site and organize your content on your site the way it should be organized on their search engine. Site structure can mean the difference between 100 visits and 1,000 visits, so make sure to put some thought into this.

Are you using images on your blog? If the answer is yes, keep in mind that images can bring your site speed to a crawl. You can’t just grab an image and upload. You need to optimize the image for high resolution and low file size. Then, you’ll need to pop in some SEO related content to that image to draw extra traffic. This can be an extremely tedious task, but once you get the hang of it, you can move a bit faster, and doing so most certainly pays off.

We’re not telling you this to scare you off of making a blog, but we want that blog to be successful almost as much as you do, and we realize what you need to succeed on organic search engines. Give us a ring if you need a hand.

 

Reputation Management: Taking Care of Customer Complaints

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Facebook is much more than just a communication outlet for friends. It’s also a way for Facebook users to connect with the businesses and brands that they love. Unfortunately it is additionally a way for users to vent their issues and complaints with brands and businesses alike. When it comes to running your Facebook page, you need to be aware that Facebook is not always about brand recognition, but reputation management as well. Often, brands have to spend valuable time creating a positive image for themselves, rather than promoting their business products or services.

Social media has created an outlet for user complaints to go both public and viral which could result in the downward spiral of your brand’s reputation. There are several brands that have experienced this distressing scenario, which often has to be handled in a manner that will effectively get your message across without taking a negative stance towards any single Facebook user. It only takes one person’s voice to make an issue go viral when it comes to social media. Once the cat’s out of the bag, the only way to calm the storm is with experienced public relations experts. Here’s a couple of examples of large reputation management issues that have recently taken the Facebook network by storm.

Heineken was a recent victim of this situation. A photo was recently posted by a single Facebook user showing Heineken banners displayed at a dog fighting event at a bar in California. People immediately took to their Facebook page with outrage, complaining about how Heineken actually sponsored such an event. Heineken relied heavily on public relations as well as brand supporters’ common sense to help drive a thorough understanding of Heineken’s opinions towards dog fighting, which effectively resulted in users contracting their statements. It takes a lot of calm, yet stern pushback to get such overreacting to ease up.

Taco Bell is another victim of this type of viral posting. A single user stated that their ground beef was not actual meat, and took to Taco Bell’s page for answers Taco Bell like several other fast food chains have never used 100% real beef within their meat products. To combat this outcry from social media, they thoroughly and honestly explain how their ground meat is prepared and that it follows the regulations of the FDA. Through this honest explanation, Taco Bell has sustained their social media popularity without having to resort to negative attacks against people or other brands. Taco Bell was praised for weeks about how well they handled the situation. It would appear that it was such a sensitive issue, that the slightest upsetting of Facebook users would have put Taco Bell further into a hole than they were already in.

Reputation management, though not often needed, can be one of the most important aspects of your social media experience. Being able to react professionally, and in a way that people can connect with an instance can make or break the success of your social media campaign.

Is Your Website Mobile Device Friendly?

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There are over 449 million smartphone users worldwide as of the end of 2011. In a world of rapidly evolving technology, consumers now find it easier than ever to stay connected to the online world whether they’re at home or on the go. Over the last few years, mobile technology has developed faster than any other electronic industry. In order for businesses to stay in complete contact with their customers, they must also evolve. A regular browser friendly website is no longer sufficient for a business to succeed in this fast-paced world. If your brand wants to survive the next decade and continue to flourish and grow, you must meet the needs of the mobile community. Upper Hand Technologies not only has the resources but the experience your business needs as times continue to change.

Over the last decade, it was commonly thought that all a business needed to produce mobile applications to place their business in front of mobile users was a smart phone app. However, over the last few years, technology within CSS coding, along with the development of HTML5, has changed the game on the mobile phone. There is no longer a need for hours to be spent writing JavaScript or proprietary coding for mobile phone developers, such as Apple, to accommodate users on the go while maintaining your regular website. With HTML5 you can now have a site coded that is friendly for viewing on desktop personal computers, as well as mobile phones and tablets.

The evolution of content management systems has also made the investment into mobilizing your website minimal, meaning businesses both large and small can accommodate mobile users regardless of their gross income. You can usually communicate information, product detail, and blog updates right to mobile devices in a view that is friendlier than that of personal computers. Businesses can also manage transactions, whether they occurred on mobile devices or personal computers through the same portal implemented in the content management system that runs their website. The team at Upper Hand Technologies is extremely well-versed in the requirements that are needed to get your business to be mobile friendly and accommodate users that are always on the move.

If you haven’t already developed some sort of mobile accommodation for your customers and new users, you’re already behind the curve of technological evolution. If you expect your business to survive the next 10 years, you need to adjust to the ever-changing technologies that are available to consumers today. The staff at Upper Hand Technologies understands that this achievement is more feasible than ever with new platforms and content management systems that are readily available for all business types. Adapting to mobile users not only gives your business an extended sense of credibility, but can play detrimental to your businesses survival. As methods of communication continue to change, we may very well in fact see society phase out desktop computers as we know it. Adapting to mobile technologies not only adds to your bottom line now, but can play crucial in the future of your business for generations to come.

How Often Do You Consider User Experience During Design?

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E-commerce is a tricky trade when it comes to your retail business. If you’ve owned a retail site for some time, you’ve no doubt made changes that are necessary to keep your business standing tall against your competition. Over the last several years, there’s been noticeable evolutions in not only the way that we communicate information to our website visitors, but the technology that allows us to do so. User experience is a vital part to the success of any website whether you have an e-commerce store or not. But on no other type of website can a poor user experience do so much damage to a business. User experience is all about keeping website visitors informed, engaged, and interested in your site for the sake of driving revenue conversions and keeping users in a research phase on your website.

Ask any e-commerce website owner and they’ll tell you that best way to improve your user experience is to start with media. Images have always been a necessity on retail websites. Now, you also need to be able to demonstrate products and show them in a real life setting through the use of video. YouTube content on your website that is made by your company (or a hired service) essentially kills two birds with one stone. Video keeps users on the site longer and the more information you can provide in your video, the more likely a user is to return. Hosting your content on YouTube while posting it to your site is also an additional visitor stream. YouTube is sometimes considered a search engine, and boasts surpassing Bing when it comes to the number of searches in a given year. By adding content to a YouTube channel that is optimized for keywords relevant to the video, you can drive YouTube “organic” traffic to your site.

With E-commerce sites, it’s not uncommon to encounter an issue of users bouncing from your site quickly. Especially if you rank well organically, users in the research phase are either looking for what you have but at a fraction of the cost, or they are simply looking for information and have yet to make a decision on who they’ll be purchasing gear from. Rather than have these researchers leave your website after quickly browsing a specific product, you need to place additional content in front of them that will allow them to interact further with your website, as well as develop purchasing options that are available to them. Consider adding a “Frequently Bought Together” and a “Most Popular” segment to your website While most users know what they are looking for, there are still plenty who don’t, so if you keep their minds open to other options outside of the initial landing page, you keep users on your site substantially longer, while offering more possibilities to drive revenue through a specific user.

The user experience is a novel’s worth of writing that can go on for quite some time. Be sure to check back often for other recommendations to improve your e-commerce user experience.

Don’t Forget These Important Factors When it Comes to Your E-Commerce Website

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E-commerce websites are available ready to go right out of the box these days. With platforms like Magento and WordPress available at no cost, business owners can have a website up and running in no time. However, what most of these rookie businesses don’t realize is that there’s so much more to a successful e-commerce website than what an out-of-box template has to offer. Specifically, there are four major elements that platforms don’t address through templates or the initial installation that must be taken care of before you even think of launching your site: Trust, Promotions, User Experience, and Marketing.

Trust

If you’re not an established e-commerce website, there isn’t much that says that the user can trust your business. In an online world that is saturated in fraudulent transactions, people will be very weary of giving up personal information, including credit card data. Start off by using security symbols such as the Norton Secured Seal, BBB information, and secure http sites during checkout to at least give the consumer a little bit of comfort in their purchase. You’ll also want to establish contact information, including a phone number. Simply leaving an option to be contact be email is often a sign that a consumer should turn in the other direction, so this part is a necessity for your success. Keep you contact information predominantly displayed on your website.

Offers

People who shop online want products cheap and with free shipping. If you can’t compete with the low price points online, you need to start by getting your product costs down or you’ll get eaten alive. Once you’ve established good price points, make sure to feature your most popular products on your homepage. There’s a reason product sell well, and whether you can figure it out or not, you need to capitalize on the data that’s in front of you. Always consider a free shipping option. You don’t need to offer free shipping on products when it simply doesn’t make sense. But if you can still pull in 20 points on a products cost, there’s no harm in shipping it for free. Consider doing a free shipping over X amount of dollars promotion to attract new business.

User Experience

Out-of-the-box templates are often generic looking and consumers know it. Consider investing in several extensions or plugins to enhance your website, including a drop down menu, featured manufacturers, and product lightbox enhancements. You’ll also want to take a crack at editing CSS files to get your content well-spaced. Often several sites are built with large white space which can make it difficult to get content in front of your customers eyes.

Marketing

Possibly the best promoter of new and return business is in-site marketing efforts. Email campaigns offer a highly targeted opportunity to advertise to consumers who have an interest in your brand and what you have to offer. Clearly display an Email sign up option, and you’ll grow your base quickly. Make sure to also offer a downloadable or even printable catalog on your website. Whether users are looking for a specific product or not, it’s nice to know that you can get every single product in front of them at any given time.

Whether Online or Offline, Marketing is All About Location!

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In the terms of online business, “location, location, location” has taken on a whole new meaning. While we can ship anywhere in the world and potentially engage millions of users in a single day. Our presence both physically and virtually has become more important than ever. With the competition in any market growing on a daily basis, you need to make sure that you’re where your customers are looking for your service or product. This doesn’t just go for things like search engine results but user communities that specialize in what you have to offer. Being in the right place at the right time both online and offline can have an astonishing impact on your bottom line.

Several businesses spend far too much time on search engine optimization. Whether you rank well in search engine results or not, the biggest problem you most likely face is that the keywords that trigger a visit to your site may very well be poorly targeting the audience you’re actually after. It’s time to almost jump ship on your search engine optimization tactics for the time being and look at other websites. As an example, take one of the keywords that you rank highly for in Google or Bing, and add the word forum to it. A quick search will usually give you several forums which contain plenty of users looking to have their questions answered. It’s ideal for you to answer as many of these questions as possible based on your experience and the relevancy of the question to your own business services. While you aren’t targeting the masses, you are in fact targeting a highly refined market that most likely appeal specifically to your business, provided you know the answer to the question. Additionally, these forums rank highly on Google with the exorbitant amount of content they have. If one person has a question, it’s very likely that others are looking for the same answers. Don’t be afraid to spend some time on one question and reap the rewards by answering questions that have yet to have any answers.

If you’re in a populated area, you’ll also want to make sure that your local listing is optimized within search results of all major search engines. Whether you have a store front or not, your local listing can dominate search engine results above the fold for any given local keyword. Being able to add this kind of real estate to your business’ search engine results literally guarantees the odd of increasing both your organic traffic and your bottom line. You may not be able to accept customers at your place of business, but you can certainly increase traffic to your website by providing location information on local listings within search engine results and websites such as Yellowpages, Citysearch and more.

Location isn’t just about where your business is located, but where your business is looking for customers. Being able to target your audience is essentially being in the right place at the right time.

Google Penguin Update…

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If you haven’t already heard, Google has released yet another update following their “Panda” update over the last two years. In order to create better search results for users who search on Google, they strive to create more relevant results with unique content. To rank on Google, you simply need to follow the rules of the Google guidelines and you can have SEO success with the right amount of useful content. However, if you don’t follow the rules of Google land, you may be in for a big dip in your organic traffic, if you haven’t already seen it. Here’s a few points to remember, especially when we take the changes that come with Google’s latest update, “Penguin”.

Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are pages that usually filled with content that only take a user to one page, which would be a point of purchase. Google has learned over the last few years that these pages are often filled with spam and present a terrible user experience for those who click on those links. While Google never did really like doorway pages, you’ll find that they’ve never really done anything about it. If you’ve got several doorway pages, you may want to reconsider your strategy before Google throws your site in the penalty box.

Content is Still King…if it’s Unique

Google has always favored unique content in search results. The “Penguin” update within their search engine algorithm is going to further penalize those who use content that isn’t unique to their own site. Even if you’ve written the content yourself, Google’s way of choosing which site to display may not play out in your favor. If you’ve got loads of content on your site, consider a writing service like Copyscape to keep an eye out for anyone stealing your hard-earned words.

Hidden Text and Links

While this is somewhat of a high school beginner tactic, Google has made it quite clear that they will not tolerate hidden text and links within any website. Normally, this sort of penalty was reserved for pages that were reported and were found to be spammy. Google has decided to lay down the law and will not tolerate ANY hidden content within your website, spammy or not. This is one of the ways to get your site penalized quickly, so double check your site now and make adjustments as necessary.

Link Building

If you were working with an SEO agency, at some point you may have been signed up for link building services that helped generate links to your site through link farming. While the major players in this sort of service were quickly weeded out by Google, there were still culprits getting away with this black hat SEO practice. You’ve now got to put serious effort into your link building program, and make sure that all of your links come from legitimate useful sites. Anyone caught using link farms will, yup, you guessed it, be penalized.

While the Penguin update is quite the act of Google putting the hammer down, if you’ve always followed content guidelines from the number one search engine in the world, you should have no problems continuing to rank as you did before the update.

Email Marketing Tips Part 2

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Email marketing, when done right can be the key to adding to your bottom line. If you’ve got the right tricks up your sleeve when it comes time to send out those important emails with some of your greatest deals and offers, you can make users engage with your business more with every email you send out. It may seem like a simple task to just grab some email subscribers and send out whatever you want, but it comes right down to the smallest detail that can make or break your email campaign. Here are a few ideas before you press the send button again.

Use a Catchy Headline

There are plenty of research tools out there for finding out what headline will create the most buzz and generate the most opens of any particular email that you send out. Use these tools to your advantage and save yourself the hassle of writing a useless headline that will land your email in someone’s trash bin. You’ll find that you can increase the open rate of an email campaign by nearly 20% just by putting a few minutes of research into your email subject.

Timing is Everything

Always consider how often and when you push out emails. Generally, more than two emails in any 5 day period are going to earn you several unsubscribers. While you may have a lot to offer, people are often swarmed with spammy emails that they simply aren’t interested in. If you overdo your email campaign, you could be sitting in the same boat as those spammers. You also always want to avoid Mondays. Since people tend to not check their email on Saturdays and Sundays, they’ve got several emails to go through when Monday morning comes around. Most likely, if your email isn’t relevant to them on a personal level, you may find your email gets deleted quite quickly. Try for a day between Tuesday and Friday for maximum views and maximum click-throughs.

Find the Deals or Make You Own

If you have more than 1,000 products available on your website, there’s a good chance that your best prices and deals are getting skipped over by visitors from other channels. Your email campaign is the one opportunity you have to communicate these valuable savings to your potential buyers. Without getting to extensive, offer several items that have big savings, and you’ll find that your click through rate increases almost ten-fold.

Always Offer a Savings Code

It’s OK to offer up a savings code that offers free shipping or 10% off any order. While this may not make the most amount of money for you, and can potentially create a loss, offering a savings code with every email generates opens and traffic to your website. The hardest part about selling someone on your products is getting them in front of your web page. A savings code is the perfect opportunity to get a curious shopper over to your site to save a couple of dollars.